“Relational life course” and Spatio-temporal Negotiations toward Futures: Mainland Chinese Grandparenting Migrants in Sydney

Dr Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho1 ,Dr Tuen Yi Chiu4

1National University Of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, 4Lingnan University, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China

Drawing on Bailey et al’s (2018) argument on the “relational life course”, this paper investigates the spatial and temporal registers of governmentality manifested during transnational ageing and through life course negotiations. We investigate how grandparenting migrants from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who are on temporary visas in Singapore and Sydney envision ageing across the life course when their family units extend across borders through their children’s migration. Family reunification restrictions in Australia and Singapore, as well as the paucity of state-sponsored social protection for temporary older migrants like them, compel them to devise various spatial strategies to “age-well-in-place” in China if their children remain abroad and when they are unable to travel regularly should frailty set in later in the life course . The family biographies they trace to the past and articulate for possible futures reflect the conduct of self and in relation to an/other. This paper is informed by interviews with 72 PRC grandparenting migrants in Singapore (n=31) and Sydney (n=42). The data for this paper is part of a multi-component project called “TRACE”  (Transnational Relations and Care Ethics).


Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho is Associate Professor at the Department of Geography and Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore. Her research addresses how citizenship is changing as a result of multi-directional migration in the Asia-Pacific. She currently researches ageing and migration through TRACE (Principal Investigator).


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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